Documentaries have the power to inform, incite and inspire an audience all in one sitting. Judging from the two-minute long standing ovation he received after the screening of his film “Slavery By Another Name,” director Samuel Pollard has accomplished those goals and then some. According to the film synopsis: “The documentary chronicles the decades after the Emancipation Proclamation when Blacks were pulled back into forced labor under a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay and repeatedly bought and sold. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.”
Set to debut on PBS next month, the film is based on Pulitzer Prize recipient Douglas A. Blackmon’s book by the same name and also includes narration from Laurence Fishburne. Pollard even cast actual actors to reenact several scenes in order to provide additional context, perspective, and overall depth to an unacknowledged period in history. “The more I can do a film that looks at this history and we can get it out to the public, the more they can understand and stop being so narrow-minded to think that American history is only one way,” stated Pollard. “To see how broad it is, how complicated it is – to me, it’s an invaluable service.”
“Slavery By Another Name” will debut on February 13th at 9PM during their Black History Month programming.Does premiering the doc in a Black History Month slot undermine Pollard’s views on Black history being American history? Does it continue the idea that the history of African Americans began in bondage?